Growing up in the 60s, it wouldn’t have been Christmas without watching “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Although the story was performed by many great actors of the day, my family usually watched the Mr. Magoo version. As a sixth grader with an appetite to read everything I got my hands on, I received a set of classics for Christmas. One of those classics was the full version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
This was a life-changing novel for a kid that never went to church and did not know Christ. I marveled at the life change Ebenezer Scrooge received after his look at the past, present and future. I feel it was the ghost of “Christmas Yet To Come” that prompted Scrooge to so desperately change. Even as a sixth grader, I too wanted a future where people would think the best of me.
Little did I know that seven years later, almost to the day, I would commit to the life transformation process brought on by a different ghost, the Holy Ghost. As God’s Spirit began to work in me, I changed from the self-centered jerk that I didn’t even like to the nice guy the new nature began to reveal in me.
I soon learned you reap what you sow in life and in people. Some would call this Biblical principle the “Scrooge Effect.” Why? Something happens within us when we show kindness; our outlook is brightened. According to Psychology Today, students at Stanford University who performed five “random acts of kindness” a week were happier, got sick less often, and had better relationships than those who didn’t.
Proverbs 19:17 tells us, “Being kind to the poor is like lending to the Lord. The Lord will reward you for what you have done.” This is a principle of being rewarded by God for showing kindness, especially to those who are less fortunate.
When we go from being self-centered to generous, we also go from ordinary to extraordinary. Think of someone you admire, someone who has been kind and generous to you. You can be thought of in that same way by being kind and generous to others. It is a simple life choice, and we can do it at no cost or invest as much as God tells us.
Five of us were waiting for a friend at a very popular fast food restaurant. While in a long line, we kept letting people (about 20 of them) in front of us. We made their day with kindness!
A colleague of mine tells of a very distressed waitress. It seems a table left without paying and her boss was taking it from her salary. When finished, my friend paid his bill, the offender’s bill, and also left a very generous gratuity. My friend was lending to God according to Proverbs.
While attending a pastors’ conference with my lead pastor. He invited two new church planters to have lunch with us. He not only bought their lunch, but found out how much they sacrificed financially to attend the conference and issued checks to cover their expenses.
After Scrooge’s transforming experience, we see a much different man; a man who desires to be generous. When Bob Cratchit arrives to work on Christmas day, Scrooge raises his salary, endeavors to help his struggling family and then tells him to order more coal to warm up the office.
Volunteer at the homeless shelter one day and make a visit to a shut-in the next; perhaps shovel the snow from your neighbors sidewalk. This Christmas you don’t have to change the world, but by blessing someone with kindness, well, it changes YOUR world!
A few nuggets from the Stanford University study:
- Be nice as often as possible. In the study, the participants who did all five random acts in one day reported the highest levels of satisfaction.
- Do your good deeds in person. Writing a check is great, but you need to be face-to-face if you really want to experience the “Scrooge effect.”
- There’s a reason they’re called ‘RANDOM’ acts of kindness. In several studies, the positive effects of a good deed wore off when it was repeated. Why? Anything we do over and over becomes routine. So you need to mix it up.